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Socioeconomic Stratification in the U.S.

This research will examine the ability of Marxian and Weberian conceptions of class to explain patterns of socioeconomic stratification in the U.S., with reference to the roles and interplay of race, ethnicity, and gender in shaping patterns of class stratification in the U.S. The research will set forth the conceptions of class held by Marx and Weber, respectively, and then discuss how each theorist's view of class accounts for social and economic divisions within the American social structure.

Marxian ideology holds that throughout history there has been a constant struggle, manifested in interclass struggle, between individual experience and social structures that shape that experience: "The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles" (Marx, Manifesto 50). The struggles are shaped by the relative position of the working class and bourgeoisie, identified with mercantilist-industrial interests that control the means or relations of industrial production (Marx, Grundrisse 227), frequently referred to simply as capital. Oppression is embedded into the very fact of social rank. In the industrial period or bourgeois epoch (Manifesto 54), however, social rank is identified not with the difference between (say) aristocrat and serf, where a sentimental veneer attaches to human relationships, but rather with the concentration and centralization of "means of production, and . . . property in a few hands" (Manifesto 56). In the process, says the Manifesto, the bourgeoisie has managed to turn the proletariat against it and sow the seeds of its future demise. Marx's utopian advocacy of the coming dictatorship of the unchained proletariat is outside the scope of this research. The point is, class warfare is bourgeois industrial society as Marx sees it.

The term most commonly associated with Weber's view of social structure is rationalization, or rationalism, that process whereby a society evolves away from a w...

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Socioeconomic Stratification in the U.S.. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 09:51, February 28, 2017, from